Apologising to those affected by the Somerset floods and admitting that mistakes had been made in not dredging rivers, Pickles said "perhaps we relied too much upon the Environment Agency's advice".
He then added: "I'm really sorry that we took the advice, we thought we were dealing with experts."
How I See It
Pete Digger, MD, MHP
As Eric Pickles took to the airwaves on The Andrew Marr Show, he appeared to have got a handle on the Government’s response to the flooding crisis.
In apparently apologising for failing to dredge the Somerset Levels, the Government finally seemed to be on the side of those impacted. However, when Pickles qualified the apology with a dig at the "supposed experts" at the Environment Agency he ensured this unravelled quickly.
It also provided a lifeline for the Environment Agency’s chairman, Lord Smith of Finsbury.
Invited to have his head flushed down a loo by local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger only days earlier, Lord Smith’s response to the flooding had until then made the Government’s look like a PR masterclass.
Declaring himself "proud" of the Environment Agency’s response in Somerset, Smith invited the ridicule of the local population.
Subsequently, Smith has observed that people who live near rivers "knew the risk" when they bought their properties. While this may well be true, the EA’s approach lacks sympathy.
Since Sunday the Prime Minister has assumed control and attempted to draw a line with the "money is no object" promise of additional funding.
But by making an overly political play to lay the blame for the flooding at the EA’s door, Pickles diverted attention from whatever the failings of that organisation might be.